Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Asian Space Race

The contest for political leadership in Asia now includes a space race among the powers.  So far, China is ahead in manned spaceflight and probably overall, but Japan clearly leads in deep space exploration.  India is moving up quickly, however, and South Korea is taking advantage of its technology base to build satellites, and perhaps soon, its own launchers.

Iran is in Asia, too, of course, but its not clear whether the Iranians see themselves as an Asian power, a regional power focused on the Middle East, or as something else entirely.  Nor are the actual capability and intentions of Iran's space effort completely clear.  North Korea has a space program, as well, but few outside Pyongyang seem to consider that nation a real candidate for Asian leadership.

Space capability is only one factor in the contest, however, as the current dispute between China and Japan over a group of small islands shows.  Still, the competition among those nations may turn out to be a positive for humanity's future in space.

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